In this conversation with The Financial Express Online’s Swapna Raghu Sanand, Nibhrant Shah, Co-Founder & CEO, Isprava & Lohono Stays shares insights from his journey.
At Lohono Stays, the mission is to provide guests with an array of opulent homes alongside unmatched hospitality.
Goa luxury rental home bookings surge through to almost 100 percent occupancy in November! Indians love to travel and Goa has always been a favourite destination to unwind towards the end of the year. Move over to a more pertinent question: What catapulted the journey of an Indian investment banker in New York and London to recognize an urgent need for creating tranquil spaces in popular destinations like Goa and Coonoor, among others.
Nibhrant Shah, alongwith his brother Dhimaan, came up with a futuristic vision to recast blissful getaways that are synonymous with luxury and world class aesthetics.
Nibhrant Shah told The Financial Express Online, “In just a few years, we have been fortunate to see tremendous success and have built an illustrious Isprava family – from CEOs to celebrities, from superstars to sports icons. ”
The word ‘Lohono’ has its origins from ‘lono’. Synonymous with a sense of ‘relaxation’ as the meaning of the Hawaiian word conveys.
In this conversation with The Financial Express Online’s Swapna Raghu Sanand, Nibhrant Shah, Co-Founder & CEO, Isprava & Lohono Stays shares insights from his journey, “To us it means discovering the pleasures of an idyllic escape. Thus, we curate and manage the most beautiful villas in India and Asia.”
He adds, “We have seen a surge of bookings over the past few months—a true testament to how bullish the travel segment can be. All our homes in Goa, Karjat and Alibaug are booked through November with very limited availability. With no timeline to the end of this pandemic and work from home culture only seeing an uphill trend, it is more likely that people are going to travel mostly with friends and family. However, their search will be towards homes that are secluded, situated in beautiful locations, safe, spacious and have great connectivity so they can spend more time at a destination with less stress of coming back.”
A horse racing enthusiast, Nibhrant Shah admits to his love for judo and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Northwestern University.
Q1. What is the vision that led to Lohono Stays becoming a reality?
Our research also suggested that HNI and UHNI travellers were facing difficulty in finding good holiday home options; Inconsistent quality/design of homes, inconsistent service, unorganized marketplace for rental homes while our homeowners were finding it difficult to market and manage their property.
The solution we came up with was Lohono Stays.
To travellers we provide fully serviced, stunning homes across breathtaking locations while to homeowners we assure capital appreciation via restyling and maintenance, hassle free property management and attractive returns on unproductive assets.
Q2, How do you see India’s premium and leisure hotels evolving post-COVID and in comparison, what is the edge that you can offer for health-conscious travelers?
There has been a shift in the mindset of the customer due to this pandemic; they are more cautious as opposed to being in the moment. Travellers, as seen in the recent trend report, are looking for accessible getaways like Goa, Alibaug and Karjat. It is important in our industry to understand these dynamics/trends and stay ahead of the curve.
Hoteliers and the tourism industry realised this shift right in the beginning and made sure to adhere to every rule and regulation diligently; maintaining social distancing, limited occupancies, following WHO sanity checks amongst others.
Another interesting point, guests are now looking to reduce interaction with others and keep it more private. Villas provide a much warmer holiday experience since the entire group lives under one roof with all amenities present at the tip of their fingertips. Villas are ideal for many reasons including privacy, your very own checked staff, private pool amongst others. We are expecting these trends to continue even after COVID.
Our precautionary steps include:
Temperature checking is mandatory for all guests during check-in
We keep a minimum of 24 hours gap before the next check-in
All surfaces areas are cleaned using WHO-approved disinfectants
Sanitizer bottles are placed in each room and masks are provided at check-in
All guests’ luggage including handbags are wiped with WHO-approved disinfectants before placing them in the room
Daily temperature checks are mandatory for all villa attendants
Any attendant recording temperature over 99.1° F will be denied entry to the villa
Pool cleaning and disinfection is done before check-in and after check-out
Q3. Goa and Lonavala are favourite destinations for Indians. Do you expect an uptick in travel and hotel bookings for Goa?
Preferred locations, due to this pandemic, are ones that are a safe drive away or easily accessible.
People are in constant search of places that let them live luxuriously and work comfortably with fast internet, work rooms and an efficient concierge team amongst other things.
With skepticism around international travel guests are likely to travel to places in India.
Goa, as we all know, is the go-to destination to most if not all, throughout the year.
Our homes in Goa are almost booked through November with enquiries being closed due to 100% occupancy. We are receiving inquiries for stays between December and February for all our locations including Goa. Additionally, our international properties including homes in Bali and Thailand should gain momentum early next year.
Our expectation here too is the same, to see exponential growth.
Q4. Tell us more about your experience with lifestyle requirements that are unique to Goa?
What do you plan to offer in the coming months?
Longer stays and workations continue to be the trend in terms of the kind of travel we are seeing. Our guests include HNIs and UHNIs between the age group of 27 and 62 who are looking for convenient, safe and hygienic options at a drivable distance. Thus, we have guaranteed that all our homes follow WHO, CDC standards because our guests’ safety is our utmost priority. In addition to taking all precautionary steps, we have created several personalized packages for short and long stays since the trend, as observed, is toward longer vacations.
Our clientele is looking for homes that can host all their family members at one place; ample space for kids to play, expansive lawn area to host mini soirees and great connectivity all throughout.
We have had some fantastic clients staying with us over the past months, including many Bollywood celebrities and well known industrialists. Many of our clients have extended their stays and stayed with us multiple times, a testament to the exceptional experience we were able to provide them. Most of our guests choose Goa since it’s easily accessible, offers a private setting, has sufficient IT infrastructure to support the WFH culture and exudes a vibe that facilitates the mind to be at ease, quite important in today’s time.
Q5. Airbnb also forecasts that demand for villas is set to witness a downtrend next year as people prefer to minimize contact with others. Can you share how COVID-19 has impacted the preference for villas in regions that typically see high footfalls – Goa, Coonoor and Alibaug?
We have rental luxury holiday homes across Goa, Alibaug, Karjat as well as South East Asia. At Lohono Stays, the mission is to provide guests with an array of opulent homes alongside unmatched hospitality.
Belonging to this space, we are quite bullish on the immediate future of the travel and hospitality industry. Our insights derived via bookings received the last few months second our remark. People are looking for a way to get out of their homes.
A sort of revenge travel is being followed here; they have stayed at their homes for far too long. This trend may decline when things get back to normal but won’t affect travel at a macro level – people are looking to make memories and spend quality time with loved ones.
Covid, though negatively affected our business in the beginning, gave us the opportunity to rewind and reassess our growth and development pattern. We understood that all our guests will now be looking for convenient, drivable, private and safe homes that are in close proximity to their residence.